True: for several years, our neighborhood rotates houses every two weeks for a happy hour. Basically, kids and adults eat, drink, and socialize from 4pm until the host says, "Thanks for coming!" It's a wonderful opportunity. Right?
Before we were married, we jumped into a New Year's and Christmas party or two. Extended friends and relations are always welcome. Amazing that these mature adults partied with a rousing spirit usually seen in our college age friends! Such delicious food choices! And he brews his own beer?! Really, we enjoyed these parties a lot, but wondered if more common ground would be gained after we married, after we had kids.
Two kids and five years later, I've realized that some aspects form natural bonds. Our neighbors know our faces and names, they know my husband's parents and brother. We run into each other taking walks or raking leaves. When our daughter trick or treats, we come to the door for a mini adult conversation. We know how to engage conversation right off the bat because we're familiar with our neighbor's interests and their kids' activities. Their children, well, their daughters, love playing with my toddler.
What's so hard about a happy hour? In one word: depth. We've walked around the same conversational trees to make a worn path. We have yet to get off the ground.
Part of the reason is me. I process out loud, as an extrovert. But I mull risks. Only later do I grasp a question or two to get off the ground and into a 'Where does that belief come from?' realm. You're probably thinking that starting with a simple "How" or "Where" helps. You'd be right... I get very caught up in the play by play and find it hard to plan a step forward.
Part of the reason are my children. I love how they can be a natural conversation starter. A happy hour party involves fluid schmoozing and working a crowd. Kids mean unplanned interruptions that often remove us from the vicinity: chasing, potty, milk, diaper, working through disappointment, etc. I find it hard to re-enter conversation when someone seems to have moved on and started up with another person. Creating the opportunity or catching the moment remains hard for me; I feel like I run after flares during parties with my children. How can I finish well?
It makes me wonder, what would the wedding at Cana have been like for Jesus? John 2 tells us that Mary, Jesus' mother, as well as his disciples partied (v.1-2). So we can answer, who was there? Cana lies about 5-7 miles north of Nazareth. So we could infer that ties and networks could have made this a wedding for an acquaintance or maybe a friend or family. Mary seems concerned about the honor of the hosts when the wine runs out, alerting Jesus before any other guests find out (v.3). Mary also seems to be in a position of authority where the host's servants are concerned, as she orders them to obey Jesus' instructions (v.4). Then John tells us about Jesus' first miracle: water into wine. At first blush, it seems background to the wedding. In fact, Mary's alert, Jesus' reply to Mary and command to the servants, even the awe of the master of ceremonies at the quality of the wine bring this 'background' party conversation into the foreground. Here is a miracle, and a blessing to this couple and their guests... who may have remained clueless as they enjoyed this tasty wine!
The disciples are who I identify with in the story of the wedding at Cana - they were amazed at what they witnessed! So much so that John only provides a zoomed in view of the event, stripped down to the essential details.
Although I may feel like a failure as one conversation comes to an abrupt end, the reality is that God works behind the scenes. Always. He knows what's really going on, and sustaining questions and curiosity in my neighbors. My family isn't moving in the foreseeable future; he'll teach me to reengage and show me how he's been working in the in between times. And so I'll finish out the happy hour season, letting the Holy Spirit show me what's really going on.